Interwave Studios’ Dark Matter is available on Steam for PC and puts gamers alone on a derelict spacecraft with nothing but a flashlight, a pistol, and your wits to survive. With alien creepy crawlies for company, the idea is to uncover the truths of the ship and escape. For the full low down on the game, take a look at our Dark Matter video review.
Dark Matter Review:
Today we’re taking a look at InterWave Studios’ survival action game Dark Matter which is available now via Steam and puts players into the shoes of an Ensign who is tasked with simply surviving and uncovering the hidden truths of the derelict ship she wakes up in. The game offers a side on perspective, with a shifting camera and fore and background objects to create a more spacious environment, or 2.5 as InterWave are calling it.
Playing the adventure is fairly simple and can be accomplished using a mouse and keyboard or a controller. The Ensign can walk, run, jump, scale ladders and enter doorways as she moves through the tunnel like areas, although running is limited by health, and only lasts for a few moments before the Ensign needs to get her breath back. It’s a bit of an annoyance at times especially when lost and needing to cover a lot of ground. The stop starting simply becomes tiresome.
There’s some atmospheric rooms to move through and minor puzzle elements as players progress through the dark and light contrasting areas. As a gameplay mechanic, the enemies react to the light, often becoming more powerful or waking up, making using the provided flashlight a balancing act of needing to see, or triggering aliens to wake up from their pods. The alien creepy crawly creatures, or scavengers, come in few forms, and generally jump at and swamp the player or spit acid. Luckily, there are four main weapons available, although the final grenade launcher weapon barely gets any use if you follow the story to the letter.So, with the pistol, shotgun or assault rifle, players can aim, and shoot scavengers with varying types of ammo, although sadly, there’s no hit reaction making the combat feel a little dull. What’s more, there’s no escape move should you get tangled up, and running away is rarely a viable tactic. Often you’re left simply squaring up with the enemy and shooting until it drops. and if quick enough can avoid taking damage in return. What is neat is being able to collect resource materials from the fallen or various lockers and containers, and then use these to craft ammo and upgrades to your weapons. There are crafting stations littered all over the ship, meaning there’s always a plentiful supply of ammo or medical kits available taking away some of the survival aspects in the process. That’s not to say players won’t be killed, as some moments do take you by surprise and result in an untimely death. Luckily the game is quite forgiving with its save stations being quite common.
Sadly, Dark Matter is a little vague with its objectives at times, and there’s a feeling that components aren’t quite as polished as they should be. For example, doors suddenly refuse to open when they should, or unusual text appears on the screen that shouldn’t. There are a number of minor quibbles with the game, but luckily nothing too damaging to hamper the overall experience – aside from having to perhaps reboot the game.
In terms of looks, there’s some simple but effective visuals on offer here, with good lighting and shadow effects used to bring the game to life. The overall style of the game is pretty dark as the name suggests, and offers areas with little fanfare and opts for simple industrial type rooms. Aside from the few graphical hiccups, the game plays smoothly and is likely not to be too demanding on lesser systems.
The audio is a bit bare to keep in tune with the solitary nature of the game, whilst there are bits of music which adds to the atmosphere and plenty of spot sound effects, the most prominent audio comes from walking, shooting and the robotic voice of the ship which leads you on your journey. Sadly, the lead character is a mute, and therefore is lacking in any sort of character which is a shame as this leaves no real bond with the character.
Weighing in at around 4-5 hours, the game comes to its end rather abruptly, to the point where it almost feels like it should have continued on. There’s an out of the blue ending which makes sense of everything that happens, and aside from playing once, there’s no real incentive to replay again. There are achievements to strive for in the way of collectibles and killing a set number of enemies, but some of these don’t register or unlock properly.
Dark Matter is an interesting game that’s easy to play, but perhaps a bit too uneventful to have any lasting impact. The combat is uninspiring, and the lone solitary gameplay, whilst intriguing, simply fails to offer any genuine moments of fright or despair. There’s a good concept here, but due its execution isn’t going to cater to everyone’s taste.
Score 5/10 – Review by Robert Cram.